We’ve been told by many sources for years that breakfast is the “most important meal of the day.” According to WebMD, people who skip breakfast tend to eat more during their next meal or consume high-calorie snacks throughout the day. Some studies suggest that people gain more body fat when eating fewer, larger meals instead of eating smaller meals more frequently. One study, conducted by Harvard only a year ago, suggests that eating breakfast can significantly lower the risk of coronary heart disease. In fact, male study participants were found to be 27 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack or death caused by CHD if they skipped breakfast. Researchers stated that missing breakfast leads to “prolonged fasting,” which can raise blood pressure, insulin levels and cholesterol. Now, however, some new studies indicate that the importance of breakfast could be overstated.
Skipping Breakfast Shown to Have Little Effect
The first study, conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center, gathered nearly 300 overweight participants who were trying to slim down. The subjects were then randomly organized into three groups. The first group would always skip breakfast, the second group would always eat breakfast and the third group would continue with their typical dietary habits as a control. After a 16-week study period, it was found that each person only lost about a pound. More importantly, the amount of weight lost was not affected by whether or not a person ate breakfast. This challenges the common assumption that breakfast is needed in order to control body weight.
A second study, also published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, was led by a University of Bath professor who was tired of being chided for never eating breakfast. The small study determined that people who were already generally healthy saw no change in blood sugar levels, resting metabolic rates or cholesterol levels after skipping breakfast for six weeks. In fact, people who skipped breakfast were found to eat less throughout the day. On the other hand, breakfast eaters tended to burn more calories. The lead researcher admits that some studies have indeed reenforced the importance of breakfast by concluding that skipping it could lead to eating too much. However, he also states that overall scientific evidence for the “proposed effect of breakfast on obesity” simply isn’t there.
The Importance of Breakfast: The Bottom Line
It’s important to remember that there is a difference between skipping breakfast and simply not being hungry in the morning. If you’re skipping breakfast despite hunger in an attempt to lose weight, you’re probably not doing your body much good. However, if these studies tell us anything, it’s that people who are simply not hungry in the morning might not suffer any negative health consequences as a result of missing breakfast. It’s also important to remember that what you eat plays huge role. A small breakfast of fruit and yogurt will no doubt be better for your health than something like a chocolate muffin or leftover pizza.